This week saw the tech world flock to Barcelona for the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. But this is far more than just an excuse to spend a few days sunbathing on the Med and occasionally ogling the latest smartphones and tablets from the likes of Samsung, Sony and Nokia. It's also an opportunity for developers to show off the latest technologies and learn about the wider trends that will shape how we interact with our gadgets for years to come.
To show there's much more to the event than presentations about screen sizes, processing power and new apps, Hotwire/33 Digital put together a list of the most talked-about trends that were exciting Twitter users during the event. And between them, they hint at a more-connected, always-on future that mobile gadgets will be at the centre of. So here's our look at the top five trends and what they could mean for you.
1. Internet of Things
Number one on the list, with almost 3,700 Twitter mentions as of Wednesday (February 26th) was the Internet of Things. This might seem like an annoyingly vague phrase, but what it means in practical terms is you can expect internet connectivity to start popping up in almost every device you can think of in the years to come.
Yes, ideas such as connected fridges that promise to automatically order more milk for you have been around for years, but with the advent of better, faster connectivity, the possibilities are now endless, with activities such as Google's recent buyout of home thermostat maker Nest highlighting just how seriously the big players are taking this.
Chief exec of EMC Joe Tucci warned ominously at MWC: "There's no stopping it. The Internet of things is coming, and you better disrupt or prepare to be disrupted."
Second in Hotwire/33 Digital's list was wearable gadgets – another trend that was looking to use MWC 2014 as a springboard to make the leap from slightly geeky niche to mainstream technology. Samsung introduced an update to its Gear watches at the show, while Sony debuted its SmartBand wrist sensor that can track a user's activities and Motorola and HTC both confirmed their intentions to make smartwatches.
With devices getting smaller, more powerful and more fashionable all the time, there's no doubt that watches, glasses and more will be one area to watch through the rest of 2014.
3. In-car technology
It's not just tech brands that show up at MWC – some of the world's biggest auto manufacturers were there too, with Ford one name that was prominently showing off just what can be achieved when you hook the latest tech up to a car.
Forget built-in satnav and Bluetooth phone connectivity, the Focus model that was on display was stuffed with everything from parking assists to sensors that warn about pedestrians and blind spots – as well as the obligatory entertainment options to keep the kids happy and voice-controlled navigation and audio-video options.
It doesn't seem that long since 4G was being introduced to the UK mobile market – and while EE has been building up its network for over a year, its rivals O2 and Vodafone have only been offering services for around six months. But nothing stands still in the tech world, so attention is already being turned to the next-generation of connectivity.
5G is probably still a few years off being available for UK consumers, but demos at MWC run by Nokia Solutions and Networks, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent showied off the latest developments, painting a picture of a superfast, always-connected future by around 2020.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given some of the news coverage in recent months, Hotwire/33 Digital Twitter trending list was rounded out by issues of security – which has become a big focus for brands this year.
While almost every manufacturer was keen to reassure customers of the privacy of their devices, there were also a couple of new products designed specifically with this in mind.
Among these was a device from US aerospace and defence manufacturer Boeing – more frequently known for its planes than its phones. It showed off a device that it claims will automatically 'self-destruct' if tampered with, which the firm said would make it ideal for seriously top-secret business communications such as those dealing with national security.